Internet Security Alert POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "Internet Security Alert" virus
Damage level: Medium

What is Internet Security Alert?

"Internet Security Alert" is a fake error message similar to Microsoft Warning Alert, Ransomware Detected, Warning: Hyper-V Manager, and many others.

This error is displayed by malicious websites that users often visit inadvertently - they are redirected by potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that infiltrate systems without consent. As well as causing redirects, PUPs stealthily run unwanted processes, deliver malicious ads, and record various user-system information.

Internet Security Alert adware

"Internet Security Alert" claims that the system is infected with a number of viruses and, for this reason, private information (banking details, logins/passwords, stored data, etc.) is at risk. It goes on to state that these viruses must be eliminated immediately.

Victims are encouraged to contact Windows Technical Support via a toll-free telephone number ("(866) 564-0233") provided. They are then supposedly guided through the malware removal process. As mentioned above, "Internet Security Alert" error is fake. It is a scam and has nothing to do with Microsoft.

Criminals attempt to generate revenue by claiming to be certified technicians and demanding payment for support. Furthermore, these people often demand remote access to the caller's computer then install malware and/or change system settings. Criminals then claim to "find" even more issues and offer their help for additional fees.

For these reasons, never attempt to call the aforementioned telephone number. The "Internet Security Alert" error can be removed simply by closing the web browser or rebooting the system (some websites use scripts that prevent users from closing the browser).

As mentioned above, potentially unwanted programs (and malicious websites) stealthily perform various background tasks (such as mining cryptocurrency). This misuse of system resources can result in a significant reduction in overall performance.

In addition, PUPs often deliver various malvertising ads that conceal underlying content (thereby significantly diminishing the browsing experience), and might also redirect to malicious websites, or even execute scripts that download and install malware. Therefore, clicking them risks serious computer infections.

Potentially unwanted programs also record various data that might contain personal details. This data is sold to third parties for marketing purposes. These actions are performed only to generate revenue. PUPs pose a direct threat to your privacy and especially Internet browsing safety. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you uninstall them immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name "Internet Security Alert" virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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The Internet is full of potentially unwanted programs that share many similarities. All claim to provide "useful features" (such as VPN services, image optimization, media play, etc.), however, these false claims are merely attempts to give the impression of legitimacy. In fact, only a small fraction of PUPs provide the functions promised.

Most are useless for regular users. They are designed only to generate revenue for the developers. Rather than providing the functions promised, these rogue programs promote suspicious websites (by causing unwanted redirects), diminish system performance, deliver malicious ads (via the "Pay Per Click" advertising model), and gather user-system information.

How did adware install on my computer?

Research shows that some PUPs have official download/promotion websites, however, criminals also proliferate them via a deceptive marketing method called "bundling" (stealth installation of third party programs together with regular software/apps), and via the aforementioned malicious ads.

Developers do not reveal details of bundled program installation - they conceal this information within various sections (usually the "Custom/Advanced" settings) of the download/installation processes. Rushing the download/installation processes (by skipping steps) and clicking ads exposes systems to risk of various infections and compromises your privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when downloading/installing software and browsing the Internet in general. Carefully analyze each window of the download/installation dialogs to opt-out of all additionally-included programs.

Bear in mind that cyber criminals monetize third party download/installation tools using bundling (they promote third party software). Therefore, we strongly advise you to avoid using such tools - your software should be downloaded only from official/certified sources, using a direct download link.

Criminals invest a great deal of time and resources into designing malicious ads. Therefore, most appear genuine, however, they often redirect to survey, adult dating, gambling, pornography, and other suspicious sites.

If you encounter such ads, immediately check the list of installed apps/browser plug-ins and removeany suspicious entries. Poor knowledge of these threats and rushing steps are the main reasons for computer infections.

Another variant of this scam with a red background, cyber criminals are using +61-1800-431-245 phone number:

internet security alert scam pop-up variant 2

Text presented within Internet Security Alert error:

Internet Security Alert! Code: 055BCCAC9FEC
Internet Security Alert: Your Computer Might Be Infected by Harmful Viruses.
Please Do Not Shut Down or Reset Your Computer.
The following data will be compromised if you continue:
1. Passwords
2. Browser History
3. Credit Card Information
4. Local Hard Disk Files.

This virus is well known for complete identity and credit card theft. Further action through this computer or any computer on this network will reveal private information and involve serious risks.

Call Windows Technical Support: (866) 564-0233 (Toll Free)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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Internet Security Alert virus QR code
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